National Basketball League (Japan)

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National Basketball League
Most recent season or competition:
2015-16 NBL Japan season
FormerlyJapan Basketball League
Inaugural season2013-14
Replaced byB.League
Owner(s)Japan Basketball Association
No. of teams12
ConfederationFIBA Asia
Toshiba Brave Thunders Kanagawa
Most titles2 (Toshiba)

The National Basketball League (NBL) was a professional basketball league in Japan run by the Japan Basketball Association (JBA). The first NBL season started in Autumn 2013, replacing the JBA's previous top-flight league, the Japan Basketball League. Below the NBL was the National Basketball Development League (NBDL), which was the successor to the former JBL 2 division.

The NBL and its predecessor existed alongside the bj league, an independent league based on the American sports franchise model that had been active since 2005. The JBA was suspended by FIBA in November 2014 for failing to address the fragmentation of the sport into competing leagues. As a condition of FIBA lifting the suspension in August 2015, the NBL and NBDL merged with the bj-league to form the B.League, which will commence in October 2016.[1] Accordingly, the 2015-16 NBL season was the league's third and final season.


The league's initial season in 2013-14 consisted of twelve teams. The eight teams that participated in the final season of the JBL1 joined the league, as well as the JBL2 champion Hyogo Storks. The Chiba Jets returned to the JBA system after playing two seasons in the bj-league, including a 9th-place finish in 2012-13. Daytrick Tsukuba [ja] intended to join the NBL after finishing third in their first JBL2 season in 2012-13, but subsequent financial difficulties saw them withdraw their application. They were replaced by the newly formed Tsukuba Robots, who submitted a separate application for entry to the league. The twelfth team to join the league was the Kumamoto Volters, who had been seeking entrance into the JBL2 since 2009. Three NBDL teams were given associate membership status, allowing for the possibility of their future promotion to the NBL. However, all three teams (Renova Kagoshima, Tokyo Excellence and Toyota Tsusho Fighting Eagles) ultimately remained in the NBDL for the duration of the competition's existence.

The 2014-15 season saw the Hiroshima Dragonflies enter the league as an expansion team[2] and the Tsukuba Robots transfer from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference. The Wakayama Trians, who were runners up in the league's first season, withdrew midway through the 2014-15 season in January 2015 due to financial difficulty[3] and were refused entry into the 2015-2016 season.[4] In March 2014 the league issued a public call for expansion teams to join the NBL or NBDL for the 2015-16 season.[5] The Tokyo Hachioji Trains joined the NBDL but the NBL remained at twelve teams. The league abandoned the two-conference system in 2015-16, with teams instead playing five matches against each other for a total 55-game regular season.[6]

National Basketball League Teams
Team name City, Prefecture Formed / Joined
Previous league NBL Conference
(2013-14 and 2014-15)
Aisin SeaHorses Mikawa Kariya, Aichi 1947 2013 JBL1 Western
Chiba Jets Funabashi, Chiba 2005 2013 bj-league Eastern
Hiroshima Dragonflies Hiroshima, Hiroshima 2014 - Western
Hitachi SunRockers Tokyo Tokyo 2000 2013 JBL1 Eastern
Hyogo Storks/Nishinomiya Storks Hyogo Prefecture 2011 2013 JBL2 Western
Kumamoto Volters Kumamoto, Kumamoto 2013 - Western
Levanga Hokkaido Sapporo, Hokkaido 2007 2013 JBL1 Eastern
Link Tochigi Brex Utsunomiya, Tochigi 2007 2013 JBL1 Eastern
Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins Nagoya Nagoya, Aichi 1950 2013 JBL1 Western
Toshiba Brave Thunders Kanagawa Kawasaki, Kanagawa 1950 2013 JBL1 Eastern
Toyota Alvark Tokyo Fuchū, Tokyo 1948 2013 JBL1 Eastern
Cyberdyne Tsukuba Robots Tsukuba, Ibaraki 2013 - Western (13-14), Eastern (14-15)
Wakayama Trians Wakayama, Wakayama 2013 (2015)[note 1] JBL1 Western
  1. ^ The Panasonic Trians were formed in 1951 and were based in Hirakata, Osaka. They relocated to Wakayama upon joining the NBL.

Playoff champions[edit]

Season Champions Runners-up
2013–14 Toshiba Brave Thunders Kanagawa Wakayama Trians
2014–15 Aisin Seahorses Mikawa Toyota Alvark Tokyo
2015–16 Toshiba Brave Thunders Kanagawa Aisin SeaHorses Mikawa

All-star game[edit]

Season Date Arena Host City Result MVP (Team)
2013–14 December 29, 2013 Ōta City General Gymnasium [ja] Ōta, Tokyo WEST 114-106 EAST Michael Parker (Wakayama Trians)
2014–15 January 17, 2015 WEST 127-114 EAST Amath M'Baye (Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins Nagoya)
2015–16 January 17, 2016 Todoroki Arena Kawasaki, Kanagawa WEST 152-145 EAST (2 OT) Davante Gardner (Nishinomiya Storks)[7]


  1. ^ Nagatsuka, Kaz (29 August 2015). "JPBL finalizes division placements for 2016-17". The Japan Times. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  2. ^ "Hiroshima Dragonflies triumph in NBL regular season debut". Japan Times. 11 October 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Financial Woes Force Trians to Quit NBL". 7 January 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  4. ^ "和歌山トライアンズ 2015-2016シーズン参入審議否決について" [About the refusal of entry of the Wakayama Trians to the 2015-2016 season]. Japan Basketball League. 30 April 2015. Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  5. ^ "NBL/NBDL  2015-16シーズン新規加入チームを公募" [NBL/NBDL 2015-16 Season Expansion Team Applications] (in Japanese). 7 March 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  6. ^ "2015-2016 レギュラーシーズン開催概要及び日程発表のお知らせ" [Outline and schedule of 2015-2016 regular season] (in Japanese). 1 June 2015. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  7. ^ Nagatsuka, Kaz (January 17, 2016). "Gardner leads West past East in NBL All-Star Game". The Japan Times.